In addition to seeing the new election go on smoothly, the private sector is also wishing to see the new government give importance to long-term economic policies and other measures to improve the Thai capital markets further.
ARIP General Manager Pathom Intarodom of the Information Technology business stated that it is good to see all sides gearing up for the new election. He however noted that all political parties should abide by electoral laws, conduct their election campaigns in transparent manner, respect the rights of others, and accept the election results.
The manager elaborated that the private sector wants to see a peaceful national politics after the general election, so it as well as the country can move forward. He added that the private sector wants to see the new government give importance to long-term economic policies given most political parties have been focusing on only short-term populist policies.
Mr Pathom viewed that political parties will avail themselves of the use of electronic technology as part of their political campaigns three times this time as much as they did during the last general election, especially social network such as facebook, twitter, video streaming, as well as viral marketing.
Meanwhile, Stock Exchange of Thailand Chairperson Sompol Kiatpaiboon stated that Thailand had been severely damaged, but has so far been rehabilitated to a certain extent. He believed that everything will move forwards in line with the democratic system advocated by political parties in their election campaigns.
Mr Sompol also voiced his confidence that the Thai capital market will be able to improve, especially the Thai stock market reform; the new government will continue the process regardless of which party wins the mandate of the people to run the country. He said the strength of the Thai economy hinges on agriculture and foods, thanks to the nation’s rich resources in addition to its tourism attractions; therefore, Thailand will prosper further if the new government can manage these resources very well and generate more income.
Those are comments from the IT business and the stock market. Follow this series of special reports for further opinions from other business sectors.
Thaksin’s proposed mega-projects include:
- – a 30 – 60 km wall to protect Bangkok from flooding;
- – a water diversion project to bring water to 25 Thai river basins, diverted from Burma, Laos and Cambodia;
- – a high-speed train linking Bangkok with major cities;
- – a ‘land bridge’ (not a canal) linking the Gulf of Thailand with the
- Andaman Sea; and
- – 10 new electric train lines in Bangkok.
There is every possibility that at least some of these mega-projects will make economic sense, once they are properly evaluated. But Thaksin is not interested in waiting around for that to be done.
The redistributive initiatives include:
- – a 3 to 5 year debt moratorium for people owing 500,000 to 1 million baht;
- – a 10 million baht minimum revenue guarantee for local administrative organisations;
- – a farmers’ credit card project, presumably backed by the government;
- – a 15,000 baht per month minimum salary guarantee for bachelor’s degree graduates;
- – a 1 billion baht education fund for state and private universities;
- – a tax-cut for first-home buyers;
- – a tax-cut for first-car buyers;
- – free wi-fi in public areas;
- – a guaranteed price of 15,000 baht per tonne for unmilled rice; and
- – an increase in the minimum wage to 300 baht per day.
Many of these initiatives are reminiscent of Thaksin’s policies during his period in office of 2001 to 2006. He has directly recycled two broader promises from the 2001 election, in which he won an unprecedented parliamentary majority:
– elminate the drugs problem within 12 months; and
– eliminate poverty within four years.
Following the 2001 election ‘eliminate the drugs problem’ proved to mean giving the police permission to kill anyone suspected of being a drugs dealer. The police themselves are widely said to be the most important drug dealers, so the policy was interpreted by many as a licence for the police to remove their competition. More than 2,000 extra-judicial murders occurred, none were properly investigated and no one was ever charged. Although the policy was indeed popular with Thaksin’s supporters, the drug problem was not eliminated.